Lynas to build permanent waste treatment plant in Malaysia’s Pahang

The Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) in Malaysia. (Image courtesy of Lynas Corp.)

Australian rare earths miner Lynas Corp (ASX: LYC) said on Thursday it had reached a deal with the Malaysian state of Pahang to build a waste treatment facility and to fulfill one of the several conditions imposed by the government last year for continuing operations in the country.

The miner, the world’s only major producer of rare earths outside China, said the $98 million project would be managed by local contractor Gading Senggara Sdn Bhd.

In August last year, the Sydney-based company was able to renew the operating licence for its Malaysian processing plant for six months subject to various conditions, including the identification of a site for a permanent facility to store its low-level radioactive waste.

The deal helps the rare earth miner fulfill one of the several conditions imposed by Malaysia last year to allow it continuing operating in the country

Lynas was also asked to put forth a plan to set up a cracking and leaching facility overseas within four years of the licence renewal.

The company said shortly after it had selected Kalgoorie, in Western Australia, as the place to build the plant, with first-step concentrate processing expected in 2021. The cracking and leaching plant is expected to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023.

Lynas said at the time it planned to explore opportunities for the next stage of rare earth processing (upstream solvent extraction) in the same state, where its Mt Weld mine is located.

The company, which controls just over 10% of the global rare earths market, has also revealed plans to build a separation plant in the United States.

The facility would be the world’s only large-scale producer of separated medium and heavy rare earth products outside of China, which currently accounts for 70% of global production. Beijing also controls 90% of a $4 billion global market for materials used in magnets and motors that power phones, wind turbines, electric vehicles and military devices.

The series of announcements came after increased opposition and scrutiny to its Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) in Malaysia. Environmental groups and local residents feared the impact the low-level radioactive waste the refinery generates could have on the health of those living nearby, and to the environment.

Last week, Lynas said it was on track to get its processing license renewal in March.

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